Last night I watched the Aussie version of 'The Secret Millionaire' *** Narrated (something a Voice Over like myself does) by fellow Mid North Coaster, the one and only - my mate, good ol' Rusty (Russell Crowe). Disclaimer: I don't actually 'know' Rusty, but hey, we're share the same part of paradise... and we both do Voice Overs, so like I'm sure if we met we'd totally be best mates! *** As always, it was a touching story of someone who is super weathly, giving back to a community in need... and in return, gaining some much needed perspective on life.
One of the stories was based around these two lovely old Nun's (I think they were Nuns anyway... They were called 'sister so and so'... does that make them Nuns?) who were working with newly arrived refugee's. They ran language and cultural classes and provided them with everyday essentials - like food, bedding and so on.
They were very sweet and obviously had devoted their lives to helping others but there was one comment that stood out... It went something along the lines of... 'Most Australians wouldn't know what to say if they saw a black person. They should do the Australian thing, and just say 'G'day.'
Huh? Most people wouldn't know what to say to a black person? What on earth do you mean? Hopefully that only extends to those over 80! Hello? We are a country based on immigration... yet, we are one of the most racist countries on the face of this earth! (oh and I can feel your blood starting to boil already - 'Rascist? As if?' I can hear you thinking)
Case No. 1:
A while back, you Aussies may remember, Sol Trujillo (Telstra's ex CEO) made a statement about our 'lucky country' on his return to the US. The comment was then taken completely out of context, paraphrased and summarised by those in the media as Australia is 'racist and backwards'... regardless of whether those words, said in that way and particular order, passed his lips, he was completely entitled to have that opinion. The aftermath of those 'comments' was proof beyond belief that we are one fucked up nation of halfwits and racists.
Here is what Neil Mitchell, a very popular talk back announcer on 3AW in Melbourne said following the event:
"Sol Trujillo, the ahhh, the Mexican bandit, he thinks we're racist, we're backward... pretty ordinary old country. It was all he could do, to take $35 million out of us as he left the country"
What the fuck? Are you serious? Talk about a self fullfilling statement! The 'Mexican bandit'? Surely you can't be serious! The guy just called us racist and backward and your response is to refer to him as a Mexican bandit? Case in point, me friends, case in point!
I know there are some out there who argued, 'well the guy took $35 million from us and drove Telstra into the ground'... Well, does that have anything to do with the fact that he is not 'Australian'?
Case No. 2:
It was summer in Melbourne... I'd been out with some friends for a few cold ones. I took a cab ride home with a very open minded girlfriend - the kind that you can have really deep and intellectual conversations with (this doesn't happen often with me so it's good to have someone who appreciates an off load every now and then) and an Indian Taxi Driver. On this particular occassion we were discussing racism. She was of the impression that we had really moved forward as a nation and that. although there were still a few mindless fuckheads out there, for the most part we were a happy, peaceful and accepting people.
I, however, was under a very different impression. After further discussion, I ask for the Taxi Drivers opinion.. he agreed. "In my own country I was a Doctor. I am a very well educated man. And as if driving a taxi isn't degrading enough, I'm subjected to abuse by the public on a nightly basis. But I grin and bear it and I think of my children. I've done this for them. So they can have a better future in a safe and lucky country."
I think I might have even heard one or two think fleetingly... 'well if you're not happy here, go home'. Are you seriously going to prove me right once again?
Think about this for a moment before you crack the shits and hang up next time... These people are made of skin and bone, just like you and me. The difference is, they live in a country where there are more homeless people than our entire poplulation - in fact in 2003 Action Aid estimated it to be more likely around the 78 million mark. With no welfare system in place, very little shelters and no subsidised housing, would you do all that you could to feed and shelter yourself and your children? I think the answer to that is bleedingly obvious!
I could go on and on and on... I could talk about how is it possible that today, Indigenous Australians lifespan is 20 years different from the rest of the population (source)... Why it took until 1984 (yes 1984!) for Indigenous Australians to have the same voting rights as the rest of the country (and by that I mean mandatory voting - like the rest of us - they were finally awarded the right to vote in all states and territories by 1965) - source But I won't... I stop right here and give you something to think about...
Does the colour of your skin, or the language which you speak, really make you any different to anybody else... We all eat, drink, sleep... feel sadness, happiness, anger, fear... endure hardships, loss and love... and we all inhabit the same Earth.
I guess the difference really is, some of us also possess tolerance and understanding... and some of us don't!
**** Next blog entry won't be so heavy... I promise!
Oh and for the record - I love my country, and the people in it, I just think as a Nation we have a little more evolving to do! We are the lucky country... and we are all lucky to be here!